LEXINGTON, Ky. – A golden goal off the boot of freshman Kelli Hubly in the 93rd minute was enough to propel the University of Kentucky women’s soccer team (14-6-1, 8-5-1 SEC) past the UT Martin Skyhawks 1-0 in the opening round of the 2012 NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship, recording the first-ever NCAA Tournament win in the program’s history.
“This is a really special moment for this program,” UK head coach Jon Lipsitz said. “One of the things that I talk about a lot is leaving a legacy and doing special things while you are here. I was brought here four years ago to make it to this moment. This is why I was hired. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate Mitch Barnhart having the confidence in me to allow me to have honor to be the head coach here.”
The golden goal came off a near-side run down the right wing as the ball was served out wide by sophomore Arin Gilliland from the center of the field. Hubly was 1v1 on the flank, and ripped a shot past a diving Mariah Klenke for the game-winner into the far post after cutting back towards the field of play. The goal was Hubly’s sixth of the season, while Gilliland charted her seventh assist of the season. It is Hubly’s third game-winning goal in 2012, tying her with Gilliland for most on the team.
“I didn’t think it was real life,” Hubly said. “When I got the ball I was like ‘What do I do?’. Every day in practice we work on those. We worked on them this morning because I wasn’t getting them right. It was really exciting with the whole dog pile and everything. I was just screaming. It is a great feeling.”
The win over the Skyhawks (13-6-3, 8-1-1 Ohio Valley) marks the first time in program history that Kentucky women’s soccer has ever won an NCAA Tournament game, breaking an 0-7-1 mark that was held before Friday night’s contest. It is also the first postseason win (SEC/NCAA Tournament) for UK under Lipsitz.
Kentucky played good possession soccer for most of the game, not allowing UT Martin to even record a shot in the final 56 minutes of the game. Kentucky outshot UTM by a count of 15-3 with seven of Kentucky’s 15 shots being on target.
Kayla King was only forced to make one save in the contest, shutting out her sixth opponent of the season, and improving her record to 13-3-0 in the 2012 campaign. King has now posted a shutout in five of the last seven games between the pipes.
The Wildcats had plenty of chances all night long, as 10 of the 13 field players recorded a shot in the game, led by Gilliland who had a game-high five attempts on goal.
Kentucky now moves on and faces the winner of Saturday’s (3) UCLA and Wisconsin match. The second round game will be either in Los Angeles, Calif., or San Diego, Calif., depending on what seeds advance into the second round. Regardless of outcome, Kentucky will be playing on Friday.
For continuing coverage of UK women’s soccer, and the team’s run in the NCAA Tournament, log on to UKathletics.com.